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"There is confidence in young researchers"

Hello, Karin Jensen, who got one of the Assistant Professor posts in KI's Faculty Funded Career Positions, also known as career ladder, advertised in 2014.

What is your research about?

"I do research on pain, and especially the mechanisms behind long-term pain, also called chronic pain. I am also interested in the placebo effect. I primarily use brain imaging to study pain, but also to understand how the placebo effect is involved in pain relief. It has been shown that these two are connected in several ways."

What has your academic path looked like so far?

"During my undergraduate studies at Uppsala University I already knew that I wanted to work with brain imaging. I came into contact with Martin Ingvar at Karolinska Institutet, who then became my main supervisor for my PhD studies at KI. As I worked with my doctoral thesis I got to know researchers in the United States who were doing really interesting work. After my dissertation in 2009 I did my postdoc in their research group at Harvard Medical School. I stayed there for four years and became Assistant Professor before I decided to move back to KI."

Why did you return to KI?

"There were several different reasons. In medical research in the United States most researchers finance their salaries with external funding, so called “soft money”. There is basically no tenure track. The competition is tough and it is stressful to be chasing money all the time. The career ladder was therefore very appealing. KI is also attractive in the sense that resources are more available here and there is confidence in young researchers, so that they are allowed to use the instruments. I can do better research when I have easy access to the instruments, can try new methods and be creative."

What has the Assistant Professor position meant for you?

"It has been of importance for my research production, since I have been able to allocate resources to my experiments when the cost for my salary is already covered. Now I can use the external funding that I have received to pay for crucial experiments that I have been wanting to do for a long time and that are important in the search for answers to the research questions I study. There is a psychological aspect to it as well. Knowing that I have a salary allows me to relax and I become more creative in my research."

Text: Karin Söderlund Leifler

About faculty funded career positions

Karolinska Institutet launches an investent programme to recruit leading junior researchers with particularly outstanding scientific merits and future potential. The announcement includes up to 22 positions at three different levels: assistant professor (four years); a two-year extension of existing assistant professorship; and senior researcher (five years).